An Unaddressed Fallacy

The streets of Los Angeles and New York seem apocalyptic. Yet, all too often, we see young Americans mocking social distancing guidelines over social media. In the past few weeks, American cases have grown exponentially; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the US has more than 957,000 cases and more than 53,000 deaths as of April 26.

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Kirkland, NY closed its playgrounds in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

What’s alarming about this spike in cases is that the elderly are not the only ones being hospitalized –– young Americans are too. And who is to blame? The White House, which has failed to instill the danger of COVID-19 into the minds of the youth.

According to Time, young adults between the ages of 20 and 44 account for 30 percent of US cases and 20 percent of hospitalizations. What’s surprising about this data is how the elderly are at a much higher risk of hospitalization due to complications, yet a fifth of hospitalizations are people far from being old. Moreover, due to testing shortages, the number of young people infected could possibly be much higher.

With all this information undoubtedly at their disposal, why have President Trump, top US coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci, and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx failed to address these alarming hospitalization figures at the countless press briefings they have held? 

The answer is simple: they want to ensure that the public feels safe. However, this tactic only creates a false sense of security for the American people, especially for those of the younger generation, and it is proving extremely detrimental in the fight to control the pandemic.

The disregard for safety displayed by many American youths was exemplified in Florida, where college students on spring break claimed in a CBS News interview that the government was blowing the pandemic out of proportion. They believed that issues like hunger and poverty were more cause for alarm than a novel pandemic for which there is no vaccine or treatment. 

It turns out that this irresponsible view on COVID-19 wasn’t just shared among Florida’s spring breakers, but among other college students who traveled over break: 44 Texas students out of 70 who went on a trip to Cabo San Lucas over their break also contracted the virus, according to the New York Times. The White House has failed to address this naivety among young Americans regarding COVID-19.

Given all of this information, it is clear that the Coronavirus Task Force isn’t doing enough to impress upon the younger population that they aren’t invincible to COVID-19. Moreover, while young people are at a lesser risk of developing severe symptoms, they can still spread the virus asymptomatically. This irresponsibility can put older generations at a much higher risk. 

By simply not addressing the alarming ICU data about cases of youths in the US, the government task force is prolonging the pandemic. Holding daily press conferences and repeating that the elderly and those with preexisting conditions are most likely to die will never be successful in making youths comply with lockdowns. This task force must publicly present data on the high risks to younger people. It is imperative that the Oval Office addresses that youths are far from immune to the virus. Without such action, there is no telling when the spread of coronavirus in the US will end.